Posted in personal
April 25, 2011

Okay… okay… what?

The title is what I was thinking as I was scrolling through Google News and skimming headlines. I saw a lot of regular news stories, and then saw a headline that made me stop and gape at the screen for a good minute before I clicked. “Foster children would be allowed to get clothes only from second hand stores.”

No, it wasn’t the weird phrasing (hint, it’s clearer to say “would only be allowed to get clothes”), it was the mere thought. I clicked through to find that Michigan state senator was proposing that in order to help save money in their foster care system that foster kids would only be allowed to shop from second hand stores.

“I never had anything new,” Caswell said. “I got all the hand-me-downs. And my dad, he did a lot of shopping at the Salvation Army, and his comment was — and quite frankly it’s true — once you’re out of the store and you walk down the street, nobody knows where you bought your clothes.”

Well, that’s great for him. In fact, I did the bulk of my clothes shopping in high school from thrift stores. Where I grew up, we had some great thrift stores that were filled with barely worn clothes from the fairly affluent side of town – so I used to get brand new pairs of Bongo jeans for a fraction of the original cost.

However, that was my choice.

I understand what he was trying to accomplish, but the argument of “I turned out fine” isn’t a great argument to make. Instead of simply saving money, he’s also telling every child in the foster care system (who are usually there because of their parents, and not anything that they’ve done) that they aren’t worth new clothes or shoes. The reality is that in this day and age, while second hand stores are cheap, Wal-Mart doesn’t cost more and doesn’t have tell a child they’re worth less than children who aren’t in the foster care system.

I’m so glad he turned out just fine. Frankly, I’m sure most kids would be fine if we spent a little less on their clothing. But he wasn’t a foster kid, so he can’t speak to the stigma that these kids already feel- which is truly the travesty here. There’s a difference between a choice being made by parents/guardians and the state essentially banning foster kids from anything other than a second hand store, which is what he wants to do to save a buck here and there. Horrible.

As a parent, of course I’m going to teach my kids that they don’t need top of the line trainers to be cool. (Er, sneakers. Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot on BBC these days) However, the most important lesson I want to pass along is that it doesn’t matter who raises a kid, or how much money their parents have – every kid is the same at heart, and they should treat everyone with respect.

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